Posts filed under 'Yoga'

New devices and yoga for migraine relief

Scribonius Largus, the physician to the Emperor Claudius of ancient Rome treated the patients of migraine with electric shocks from the electricity-producing black torpedo fish called the Electric Ray.

Migraine is a kind of headache on one or both sides of the head, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity of the eyes to light and sound, dizziness, blurred vision, cognitive disturbances, etc.

The world of modern medicine has long replaced the Electric Ray. But the top migraine researchers from the US are exploring the electrical or electromagnetic intervention to treat an otherwise incurable condition.

Large scale clinical trials on different kinds of stimulatory devices are underway to give relief to those suffering from severe migraine.

Migraine affects about 30 million Americans and is known to be a hereditary neurological condition.

There are two kinds of stimulatory devices that are currently tested for mitigating migraine. An occipital nerve stimulatory device is a pacemaker-like machine which is connected to electrodes placed at the back of the head just under the skin. Electricity is passed through the electrodes to suppress or prevent migraine pain.

An another kind of machine, called transcranial magnetic device, is pressed against the back of the head, and short and periodic pulses that are generated are sent into the brain. It is aimed at checking the migraine pain while it progresses.

Migraine patients have responded to yoga and ayurveda in a highly encouraging way. Patients with chronic migraine, who participated in yoga camps, reported relief after practising breathing exercises or pranayama. The most beneficial of the exercises is the Aalom Vilom, a single-nostril rhythmic breathing exercise under an extensive regime of yoga.

The breathing exercises are known to bring a nervous balance, which has soothing effect. The effect is reinforced by the release of endorphins and cortisones, which are a direct result of the breathing exercises, as investigations have established.

1 comment November 23rd, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Eating Disorders diagnosed from hair strands

Chris in his blog a couple of days back has talked about the research on how your body image can influence your decision about checking your weight and getting back to shape.

The latest research from Brigham Young University in Utah may help you pinpoint what is wrong with your diet even if you cannot assess yourself or would not like to disclose to your dietician.

According to the research, your hair strands provide an insight to an eating disorder if you have one. The researchers identified differences in the contents of nitrogen and carbon in the hair strands taken from female volunteers who had an eating-disorder and those who did not have one.

They could identify the source of the disorder 80% of the time.

Hair can show the patterns of diet of an individual, according to Kent Hatch, a professor in BYU’s department of integrative biology and the principle author of the research published in a journal, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry.
Your hair grows continuously every day. Their chemistry changes on a day-to-day basis, which has been found to be linked with your daily intake of nutrition or lack of it. Just five strands of your hair can indicate if you have anorexia or bulimia, the two most common eating disorders.

The research, which needs to be perfected for wider usage, can help a clinician diagnose an eating disorder at a much earlier stage.

Doctors and therapists in their diagnosis of an eating disorder normally have to depend upon what their patients say about what and how much they eat. “Their self-evaluation is very impaired; they are poor historians too”, says Jennifer Tolman, clinical director of a treatment facility in Utah.

According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of well being and healing, it is very important for you to know when you must eat, when you must not and when you must stop while eating. For instance, it takes 45 minutes to an hour after a meal for you to know whether you have eaten just enough, or have overeaten. Your correct biorhythms about such body processes are set very early in life. The parents who force their kids to eat when they are not hungry help set wrong biorhythms for them to grow into sick individuals. Yoga has been found to help correct such imbalances.

Add comment October 19th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Modern and ancient sciences turn against cola drinks

The war against carbonated beverages in general and colas in particular seems to gather momentum both in the East and the West. There have been reports from the US, UK and India where some schools and universities have banned the sale of the fizzy drink on their campuses.

Patanajali Yog Peeth (PYP), the yoga and health crusader institution in India has virtually launched a countrywide diatribe against coke in particular and carbonated drinks in general.

The torchbearer of the yoga movement in India and the chief functionary of PYP, Swami Ramdev, quotes the institution’s findings that carbonated beverages cause a number of health disorders including arthritis, digestive and respiratory disorders and even serious pregnancy related conditions.

PYP and Swami Ramdev have often been accused of lashing unsubstantiated criticism against the soft drinks multinationals.

Almost no yoga camp organized by PYP and addressed by Swami Ramdev concludes without critical mention of the effects of carbonated beverages. Swami particularly discourages the children and asks them to resolve against the intake of cola drinks. He calls the drink ‘toilet cleaner’ for it has been found to be quite effective at it. Hence his slogan for the children and all – “the right place for your cola is not your refrigerator, it is your toilet.”

In this backdrop a recent US research report on the effect of carbonated drinks is opportune. Accordingly, the fizzy drink makes bones brittle in case of women. The brittle bone disease, called osteoporosis, in the case of women has been linked by the study to phosphoric acid found in cola drinks.

Three million Britons suffer from osteoporosis in which bones lose their density. An early menopause, lack of dietary calcium and low levels of physical exercise are among several factors which may lead to the condition.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study had 2500 men and women in the age group of 60 as volunteers. While each woman was drinking a minimum of four cola drinks in a week, men were consuming five. No real effect was observed in case of men when the volunteers were examined for their bone densities in the hip and spine region.

Well, that should not give carte blanche to men. For, a higher level of physical activity, which is men probably do, could well be the reason for their being not found affected by cola drinks.

PYP and Swami Ramdev have yet more evidence coming from the western world to support trheir stance against these drinks.

Add comment October 17th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Off the path

Lalit, our resident yoga and ayurveda expert, wrote a blog yesterday that reminded me that I was meant to be well down the path to enlightenment by now.

Oh dear, I have been letting my Pranayama breathing exercises slip recently.

For those who read this blog regularly, you will know that I place a lot of importance on keeping fit, and I go to the gym, or swim, most weekdays. This takes up any free time I could devote to calmer pursuits such as yoga and the Pranayama breathing exercises that Lalit gently reminds me about.

It sounds strange, as I write this, that I can’t make time in a twenty four hour day, to spend ten minutes relaxing and breathing deeply and in a controlled way. the benefits to doing this are huge. I feel more clear headed and calm after practising Aalom Vilom (AV) and that sense of calmness seems to last for a number of hours.

In fact, a few weeks ago, I was rushing to the shops to get the weekly shopping, which, unfortunately, I had been tasked with. I ended up getting there before the shops were open and had ten minutes to wait in the car park. I realised that I felt a bit stressed, as there is a lot going on at the moment, so I sat there doing AV for a few minutes.

A sense of calmness and clear headedness descended upon me and I felt rejuvenated. I know that the deep, deliberate and controlled breathing ensures that your blood is maximally oxygenated, but it does wonders.

So here I sit after another busy day. I’ve been to the gym. I’ve worked hard on a number of projects and organised a range of different tasks, but I haven’t spent that ten minutes of Pranayama, which could probably help the most.

Thanks, Lalit, for giving me the nudge again. Its about time that I stumbled back along that long and winding path. Tomorrow I’ll make the effort. I mean it!

Add comment September 27th, 2006 Written By: chris

Yoga for those with busy lives

Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of healing teaches us that our digestive tract is key to our overall health and wellbeing. Most of the physical disorders have their origin in a sick digestive constitution, something that may go undetected all your life.

Hence, the system of yoga, as the ancient Indian regime of breathing exercises, developed and evolved around making our vital environments conducive and fit enough to interact with our vital organs to keep them in good health.

The practice of yoga, as with any other discipline, needs time and effort. I can imagine it is difficult to begin with and then sustain over a period of time for the busy and really hard pressed for time.

Including my friend Chris, who runs this web site, I know at least two dozen such busy persons who started yoga whole heartedly but gave up after a few days to a week or so. But all of them have reported good feedback on their few days of the practice, regretting their inability to continue.

Lately I had been busy experimenting trying to work out a yoga package for those who have little time to practise.

In the series of seven breathing exercises called pranayama, as prescribed under the regime of yoga, Bahya and agnisar pranayamas prove to be a great solution to the problem. You don’t really have to make time for the breathing exercises. You can do these while you are driving or travelling by public transport to your place of work and back; you can do these while you are working on your computer or when you are not talking. And the practice needs just less than three minutes whenever and wherever you have that time.

For Bahya pranayama all you have to do is inhale as much air as you can and then exhale. While you exhale contract you stomach muscles gradually inwards as much as you can. Remain in this position for as long as you can without breathing. Repeat this exercise three times.

For agnisar pranayama contract your stomach muscles as in case of Bahya pranayama, without breathing. While in this position contract and expand your stomach muscles; give you stomach as much muscular exercise as possible before relaxing and breathing in.

The two breathing exercises will improve the vital environments of your digestive tract and your lungs. The exercises must be performed about five hours after a full meal and a couple of hours after a light meal. Otherwise, fifteen minutes before lunch and five hours thereafter are ideal times for the practice.

The best way though would be to practise while travelling back home from work in the evening.

These exercises have significant health benefits. The first one that you feel within a few days is that you do not get fatigued during the day. Those who are sick will feel improvements in their conditions.

And it costs you nothing; not even your time.

1 comment September 26th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Yoga is making a big difference!

I have so far only been reading about the power of yoga and ayurveda. I have been even contemplating practicing it seriously for quite some time now. That I have been unable to do so, for whatever reasons, is another story.

Like I have written earlier, it is probably the case of the spirit willing, but the flesh being weak. In my case, working out, walks, and various other forms of exercise have been happening, no doubt, but in fits and starts. The more I have been reading about yoga, and I have had ample opportunity to do so in recent months, the more I am tempted to take it up as a full time exercise activity.

However, like they say, it sometimes takes a jolt, a kick in the butt, or some sudden
realization sometimes to actually get down to brass tacks and actually make something happen. In my case, that happened a couple of days back. My mother has been suffering from a few things associated usually with ageing. One of these, and it has been causing her considerable pain over the past few months, is cervical spondylitis.

It manifested physically as a severe pain in her right hand, starting initially at the shoulder region and then moving down over time right to the palm. We tried everything – medication, physiotherapy, even traction – but nothing worked fully. The pain was there in some degree all the time.

Things reached a point where she could not even clench her fist, or hold a cup properly. As the pain raged, so did the temper. Matters reached breaking point one
day, and it was then I thought of trying yoga. I managed to get her to a good yoga instructor. She was wary initially, because she feared that it might involve postures that could aggravate the pain – that is what happened when she was undergoing physiotherapy. However, after being assured that no such thing would happen, she agreed to give it a try.

It has been a few days now, and the results are amazing! The pain has reduced considerably now. She is able to clench and unclench her fist, and also hold things in her right hand comfortably. The yoga instructor says it will still be a while before she is 100 percent okay, but get there she will.

The relief and happiness on her face is something to see. She is no longer ill-tempered, and is generally happy. If this is what yoga can do, I think I need to take it up seriously as well….

Add comment September 8th, 2006 Written By: daisy

Making Yoga fun for children

I was watching a TV programme called Dragons Den last night. This programme gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to win funding from leading business financiers and features a range of sometimes wacky, sometimes brilliant, ideas and inventions.

“What’s this got to do with a blog on FurtherHealth?”, you might ask. Well one of the ideas presented last night was from two ladies who have set up a business called YogaBugs. They provide yoga classes to young children and also teacher training for adults who want to become “Yogabug” instructors.

Their pitch to the investors was impressive and even included a demonstration of how traditional yoga postures can be adapted in a fun way for young children. They were actually offered the funding that they wanted, but turned the offer down as the investor wanted too much equity in the business.

I find all this very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly the fact that a highly successful business man was willing to invest £200,000 (around $350,000) of his own money in a Yoga based venture, shows that Yoga must be gaining a strong foothold throughout the world and is thereby presenting some viable commercial opportunities.

Secondly it is good to see that people are tackling the issues of chilhood obesity and their lack of exercise. Indeed research is showing that around 20% or British children will be obese by 2010, which will of course have major health implications for the generations to come.

Thirdly, I am reminded about Lalit’s, struggle to teach his young daughter Yoga and to imbue her with a desire to incorporate Yoga into her life. Perhaps he should approach YogaBugs to become an acredited instructor.

I wonder if they have any indian yoga instructors on their books.

Add comment August 25th, 2006 Written By: chris

My future yoga student

There are times when I am not able to cope with my morning routine of ablutions and work even if I am up at half past three.

The most upsetting thing is that I am forced to give up a major part of my yoga practice. On such occasions I have to be content instructing and watching my daughter do her practice while I am busy attending to my chores. I do try to catch up with my breathing exercises though while driving to my office about 35 km and an hour away from my home.

This morning was one of those occasions. As I drove through the slow moving traffic on a busy road in New Delhi, bumper to bumper, I had my fingers on my nose. I was doing a single-nostril breathing exercise, pressing my right nostril with my right thumb and the left with two middle fingers. I was changing hands during the exercise to shift gears and maintain control over the steering.

I did not notice that a lady driving on my right hand side was keenly watching me as I continued with my yoga practice. As the traffic pulled up at an intersection, the lady gestured me to roll down my window. It was quite noisy outside and the lady seemed to inquire what I was doing. I tried explaining but she was unable to hear. She gesticulated and asked me my mobile number. I gestured the 10-digit number with my fingers which she wrote in her mobile phone.

As I settled down in my office at 8:30 am, I got a call. It was from the lady who had taken down my mobile number. She was happy to finally ask me what I was doing. She was surprised how I was making the “best possible use of my time” in the middle of one of the busiest roads in the capital.

As she does not live very far from my home, she expressed her keenness to visit me and have a yoga lesson or two.

If she does pay me a visit, she will be the sixth person that I’ve met on various journies, that has become my student of yoga.

The five others took to yoga while we were co-passengers travelling by train or by air.

The sixth one would be unique – we were driving different cars and striking up a conversation by gestures alone.

Add comment August 17th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Yoga regulates digestion

Just before I took an active interest in the discipline of yoga, I remember a book, written in Hindi, a non-descript publisher of yoga and ayurveda books sent me to write a review for my newspaper. It lay on my desk for weeks together gathering dust.My lethargy owed much to my ingrained disbelief that yoga could accomplish all that it claimed. I became quite irritated as the publisher phoned me almost daily asking me if I could get time to go through the book.

And on one bad morning I did tell the publisher in very clear terms that I neither had time nor interest in reading his book let alone writing a review on it. It was a bad morning because I would normally get up to a persisting flatulence and constipation, and spend close to an hour in the toilet reading the morning newspapers.

It was only once in a week and sometimes in 10 days that I used to feel good in the morning and respond nicely to the ‘good morning’ greetings of my colleagues and others.

Needless to say that morning I had disappointed the publisher with my negativity, however I was peeved at my own behaviour and knew very well that it was all because of my sick gastrointestinal constitution.

I decided that I had to do something about it. But I had no clue, what. The day went away like any other day of my profession as a journalist – eating a breakfast without appetite, rushing to my newspaper office to check up the story of the day, making dozen s of telephone calls to get facts, undertaking interviews to back up the story, hammering on my computer keyboard before having a late lunch at four in the afternoon, going back to the PC to finish the story for the late night submission, meetings and yapping away with my colleagues and returning home to a late dinner past midnight.

I followed that unhealthy routine religiously for a number of years.

That night I returned home to find that my mother was too sick to prepare food. She made me a sandwich instead, which was all I ate that evening, and as the TV wasn’t working, I picked up the yoga book that I was being asked to review and started reading.

Reading page after page, I went through the book which was about common digestive problems. There was one message that was repeated throughout – skip a meal and more often skip dinner to get your bowels in order.

The next morning I got up to a splendid bowel movement, which had been so rare previously. I spent just seven minutes with my ablutions and had time for a hearty breakfast.

Back at the office, I started writing the book review. Then I phoned up the publisher, apologized for my behaviour earlier, and informed him that the review was on its way.

I had had a memorably good morning.

Add comment August 11th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

Yoga and ayurveda will be trusted soon

Yoga and ayurveda, despite being the oldest and most time-tested regimes known for maintaining good health and treating illness, do not command as much respect and trust as they deserve.

I can recall an international conference on cardiology that I reported on for my newspaper as a journalist a few years back. The five-day conference had a host of subjects to do with cardiology which were incisively discussed and lapped up by both local and national press.

A short session with probably the least participation from the experts and even the press, was devoted to yoga and ayurveda. However, there was almost no press coverage on what was deliberated in the session on the traditional science of health and well being. Even I was an unwilling participant reporting on the session for my newspaper – I myself was a diehard sceptic at the time about the ancient science of health and treating diseases.

A small piece I wrote in the evening and sent to the editor did not find space in the morning edition of my newspaper the following day. It was a total waste spending all that time at the session, when there was so much focus on the most sophisticated advances in the surgical equipments used in cardiac care. The traditional science did not have place even in the discussions of the well-healed and those who were in awe of the hi-tech wizardry.

Apollo Hospitals, a chain of the state-of-the-art multi-specialty health facilities and one of the eminent institutions in cardiac care in India, is grasping the efficacy of yoga. Sometime back I happened to see the prescription of a heart patient who had gone for cardiac investigation at the one of these hospitals – he was investigated for blocked arteries of his heart; the blockades reported ranged from 40-70%. The Apollo’s prescription read in no uncertain terms – Daily pranayama for an hour in the morning.

Pranayama is a set of breathing exercises under the regime of yoga for treating various health disorders.

Unfortunately, the general mindset on traditional science or even new discoveries from the third world reiterates that anything that is not endorsed by an American or a European authority on the subject is a sham or at least lacks credibility.

The mindset is too firm to change overnight. It may be a while before yoga and ayurveda get their pride of place and win the hearts of millions (particularly patients). Those who have experienced them and got relief in their various health problems have already placed their trust in the traditional systems.

The respect of many more may follow soon.

Add comment August 7th, 2006 Written By: lalitgambhir

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